Death metal is on a tear lately, with some of the biggest releases every week for the past month, and continuing forward into March. It’s rare to see a single genre be so dominant on the release calendar for such an extended period, but when you consider how many death metal bands there are from past and present, it becomes less surprising. Only thrash and power metal can compete with death metal for having the highest number of active bands and the longest periods of uninterrupted survival in the metal world. And even though it may still be publicly reviled by many, death metal is undeniably stronger now than it ever has been in the past.
Today we highlight a few death metal artists that grace us with new material this week. The headliner is a well-known American metal institution that crosses genre barriers to create one of the most unique sounds in the world. We also have a young technical death metal group that has been out of the public eye for awhile, as well as a handful of newcomers hoping to inspire new fans among the masses. There are plenty of other genres featured too, so have a look and prepare for some amazing heavy music to come!
Goatwhore, Blood for the Master (Metal Blade)
Ask people to name a blackened death metal band, and most people will usually name Behemoth first, because their style draws so heavily on the black metal side of that spectrum. Goatwhore is the polar opposite, in that the majority of their style is rooted in death metal, with black metal having less of an obvious impact. This is why many people classify them more simply as death metal, even though they are a blackened death metal band at heart. In many ways, Behemoth and Goatwhore are two sides of the same blackened death metal coin, and both deserve equal attention from the fans of both genres. Blood for the Master is the latest reason for this, examining the rituals of death and criticizing religious doctrine even further than 2009’s masterful Carving Out the Eyes of God. With the acidic roar of Ben Falgoust and the ingenuous compositions of Sammy Duet, Goatwhore does no wrong for the fifth consecutive release.
Beneath the Massacre, Incongruous (Prosthetic)
For a brief period, I considered including Beneath the Massacre in my “Missing in Action” column last June, mostly because the band had gone completely off the grid after releasing the Marée Noir EP in 2010. However, I held off, despite my incredulity at the band’s utter silence for such an extended period. It would have been a tragedy for such an absurdly talented young band to shut down before their time, leaving fans with only the EP and their two fantastic albums, Mechanics of Dysfunction and Dystopia. Now, I can happily report that Beneath the Massacre is back with even more technical death metal brilliance, courtesy of Incongruous. This record is the perfect follow-up to Dystopia and will have tech-death fans howling for more before the first song even finishes. If you liked Psycroptic’s release from last week or are looking forward to Meshuggah’s new album debuting in six weeks, then this is definitely worth your attention.
Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Damned (Candlelight)
The English stoner metal group celebrated their fifteenth anniversary at their London Christmas show in 2010, but it was a bittersweet celebration for some fans, who expected that the band was over after a March 2010 statement that their new material was postponed indefinitely. It wasn’t until the Summer of 2011 that the band announced they were heading back into the studio and recording their new material for an album, much to the delight and relief of anxious fans. A Eulogy for the Damned is a powerful album with more stoner metal greatness that longtime fans have come to know and love. More importantly, it is a record that any potential fans of the band or the genre can jump into as an introduction to the world of Orange Goblin. It’s a mildly accessible record, but not so much that others will cry sellout, and it gives a good overview of the band’s career from start to finish.
Swallow the Sun, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird (Spinefarm)
Doom metal is not the most widely-known metal export from Finland. It’s hard enough getting American metal fans to absorb and enjoy the death-doom mix of bands like Insomnium – asking them to try out straight Finnish doom metal is somewhat of a tall order. However, Swallow the Sun has gained a small foothold here in America to complement their much larger following in Europe. The group has released four albums of quality doom metal that is always increasing in skill and potency, which is why 2009’s New Moon was one of my favorite doom metal albums the year it came out. Emerald Forest and the Blackbird should continue that trend, especially since they’ve retained Wintersun drummer Kai Hahto in their lineup.
Also being released this week:
Earth, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II (Southern Lord)
Lillian Axe, XI: The Days Before Tomorrow (CME)
Hopes Die Last, Trust No One (Standby)
Blood Ceremony, Blood Ceremony (Metal Blade)
Amoral, Beneath (The End)
Dawn of Ashes, Farewell to the Flesh (Metal Blade)
Knives Out!, Black Mass Hysteria (Razor to Wrist)
Pilgrim, Misery Wizard (Metal Blade)
Wombwrecker, Wombwrecker (Tribunal)
The Devastated, Devil’s Messenger (Century Media)
Chimp Spanner, All Roads Lead Here (Prosthetic)
Dr. Living Dead, Dr. Living Dead (Tribunal)
Next Week: Preliminary searches reveal NO new releases for next week. What on earth are we going to do? Come back next week and find out!